Ashley Valencia was growing impatient.
It’s understandable. The Owen High catcher and her coach both said she aspired her whole life for a shot to play college softball.
Pensacola State (Fla.) is the school offering that chance. Valencia is the one of the latest rising seniors from Western North Carolina to make a college choice.
“It’s really awesome. I’ve been working for this for 14 years and now it’s here. I’m super-excited,” Valencia said.
“It’s nice to have it off my plate. It was a lot of stress, feeling like I was a late commit. Now it’s a lot of relief. The coaches were all extremely nice and very welcoming. I like the hot weather. It’s going to be nice to play in.”
Valencia has been a three-year varsity starter for the Warlassies and hit .500 with 25 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and three home runs.
Her fielding percentage was .950.
Valencia was one-half of an All-Western Highlands Conference battery for Owen (14-4) that included fellow rising senior and Presbyterian College pitching recruit Jaiden Tweed.
Tweed was the WHC Pitcher of the Year.
“I’m already excited (about the 2018 season). I think we are going to be really good and have an opportunity to go a lot farther in the playoffs that we did that year,” Valencia said.
Warlassies coach Jenny Johnson is already dreading that she will have to replace Valencia after next year.
“Ashley has so much ability to do so many things. She can play anywhere and she is such a great leader,” Johnson said.
“She really takes ownership, and you like to see that as a coach. We’re happy that she is going to get this chance to further her career.”
Valencia has also played basketball and tennis for Owen in the past.
Pensacola State does not have any other North Carolina players on its roster.
The Pirates have been coached since 2015 by Lyndsey Angus.